It has been a few months since the Supreme Court ordered the Sindh government to improve the infrastructure of Karachi, which requires the removal of at least 500 buildings (encroachments) in the city.
The encroachment crackdown is in full swing, almost cleaning up the city’s historic center, i.e., the famous Empress Market. However, the drive has not been a win-win for everyone, as many vendors have lost their businesses.
Now, very few people visit the area that was once overcrowded and home to the businesses with over 80 years of history. Nevertheless, clearing out the city’s historic downtown is one of the main projects intended for Karachi’s modernization.
While the masses remain resentful regarding this drive, the revitalization of Pakistan’s largest city is not all about removing the illegal encroachments.
Karachi’s Revitalization Drive
It is a multipronged drive, but the other aspects of the drive remain stuck in the pipeline, owing to politicking between authorities and lack of interest on part of the government.
For now, the largest city of Pakistan that accounts for 20 percent of the country’s GDP has been grappling with traffic congestion, rampant crime, and electricity and water shortages. Without solving these issues that have obstructed the city’s growth for decades, Karachi will not be able to get its glory back.
Recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced the allocation of Rs. 162 billion for the revitalization of Karachi. The amount is mainly to be spent on transport and sewage projects.
“We need to make a master plan for Karachi and define the limits of the city and whether it will expand beyond its current area,” said Khan.
Public Transport Schemes
For now, two public transport schemes, including a new bus service and the revival of long-closed inner-city rail service, are on the cards. Both the programs are awaiting authorization from the federal government before inviting bids to supply new buses and laying railways tracks.
According to the Chief Executive (CEO) of the Federal Development Corporation, Muhammad Sualeh Faruqui, who is in charge of the bus project, says that the service will be able to serve 250,000 commuters daily. Moreover, he said that the provincial and federal governments will soon finalize an agreement in this regard.
Both of the projects require speedy execution, as the city is mired in traffic congestion. The Saddar area, where Empress Market is located, is a transport hub for around 20 million residents.
The Mayor of Karachi, Wassem Akhtar blames the current state of the city on the provincial and federal government. According to him, both Sindh and Federal governments are non-serious in the city’s development.
As for the crime situation of the city, there has been a lot of improvement over the past few years. The rate of annual murders fell to 500 from 2500 in a year since the crackdown on criminal gangs in 2013.